For all Her Hands Have Done

 

I got dressed up for a wedding last weekend.  I painted a bright pink on my nails, donned my pearls and heels, and even curled my hair.  It was a lovely spring wedding and we were able to reunite with old friends and celebrate a really beautiful couple.

It was an outdoor wedding and despite what the weather app had said, it was chillier than expected.  I sat down for the ceremony and snuggled in closely to Randall, crossing my legs and hands in attempt to keep as much warmth in my body as possible.

As the pastor prayed, I looked down at my hands turning purple under the clouds.  My skin was rough and in desperate need of moisture.  My pink nails were already chipped from whatever menial tasks I had done in the last 24 hours.  I had burns healing on both wrists from baking bread over a week before. Honestly, I was embarrassed at the sight of them.

I rarely paint my nails for fear that I’ll draw attention to what I’ve always felt are my “man hands.”  They’re big, rough, and scarred.  When I was the maid of honor and in charge of my brother-in-law’s wedding ring 15 years ago, I had to wear it on the tip of my pinky so it wouldn’t get stuck on my fat fingers.

Ugh and sigh… I don’t want to talk about this anymore… 

No. I do.

In honor of International Women’s Day today, someone posted the verses from Proverbs 31:10-31 describing a woman who wakes up early and stays up late working to provide for her family’s physical needs.  She is talented, wise, caring, confident, and selfless.  She makes her husband and children better people. These verses are written as a poem about a fictional wise woman.  It is not a back breaking command for women to strive to emulate. In fact, the only thing this passage commands is that men praise women for all they are.

“Honor her for all that her hands have done…”

-Proverbs 31:31

I sat in a room of women this morning, next to my own mother.  The woman in front of me had a bandaid on her translucent, aged hands.  I looked down at my mom’s hands who, at one point in my life, were more familiar to me than my own. How blessed are we to be able to use our hands to love others well?

My hands bear the proof of my love for my family and devotion to them. My hands are scarred from making their bread, dirty from playing with them, worn from cleaning up after them, strong from holding them up and so, so happy to bear these marks of love.

 

Politics…

I am so average.

I’m the girl who gets mistaken for every other white girl with brown hair that you’ve ever seen.  Weekly, not kidding, someone comes up to me and either assumes I’m someone else or tells me that I look just like… I love it when people tell me who I look like and how they feel about that person. “You look just like a girl I used to hate…” Great…

My parents always told me that I was “smarter than the average bear.” Which I realize is not saying much because bears, though very intelligent for mammals, are not smarter than the average human.

Kevin Dietrich/SOLENT

So when it comes to politics, I usually don’t feel smart enough to make a strong opinion.  Mostly because almost nothing is black and white.  I almost always feel that every option is a lose/lose situation.

Let’s take our most recent executive order on immigration. Before you state your extremely strong opinion, look at the facts* with an open mind. My prayer is that during the current 90 day ban he will have wise advisors come up with a reasonable way to vet incoming immigrants.  My fear is that currently people who have already been vetted are at risk of being sent back to the wolves. I’m also aware that the current vetting process is already all politics.

I hate politics. I trust no one.

It’s a mess.  It’s not good. It’s lose/lose and it always seems that way.  In this case the loss is great on one side, much more than the other.

So what do we do?

I know I’ll get push back on this statement, but today, I don’t think you have to have an opinion on the executive order.  We can just quit talking about it. But don’t just sit there.

Love your Muslim neighbors well.  I mean give them a hug and stand up next to them.  My neighborhood is having an interfaith feast at the local Islamic Foundation.  I’m gonna be there.

If you feel strongly one way or another, let someone know. Emailing and writing our representatives is not pointless, but calling them on the phone holds a little more weight.  Tell a story about how this affects you and the people you love. Make it meaningful and personal.  Remember that the policies can be gray so be specific about which parts you oppose or support. (This is implying that you already know the facts about the policy.)

Put your money where your mouth is.  Help refugees who are already in the states.  If you care so much about the ones who aren’t allowed in, make sure you’re loving those who live down the road.  A staggering statistic from the link in the last sentence says: It is estimated that less than 10% of the refugees living in St. Louis will ever be befriended by an American.  That’s yuge. We can do something about that at no monetary cost to you.

The point is that the executive order affects people and now we’re all thinking about those people.  Let’s do what we know we are called to do and love them well in the ways we are able. Period.

 

 

 

 

*One thing I always have a strong opinion on these days is how far the media stretches facts and how we can’t trust so much of what we read and hear. Don’t let opinions and strongly stated articles form our beliefs for us on such important subjects.  Please continue to seek out full truth before making judgements and strongly posting them all over social media.

Like a Girl

I am a woman.
I am American.
I am educated,
Capable, and strong.
More than anything, I am blessed.

I am not less than.
I am not weak.
I am not an object to be won
Or to be grabbed.

There is nothing nasty about me.

I strive to be slow to speak
And wise with each word
But I will not stand silent
When my voice needs to be heard.

I did not march, but I do stand.http://www.dailydot.com/irl/womens-march-washington-photos/

She who does not have the same rights as me,
I stand with her.
She who will never be vindicated for what was taken from her,
I stand with her.
She who is paid less than her male equal,
I stand with her.
She who is culturally different from me,
Getting less opportunity than me
In my own neighborhood,
I stand with her.

She who is limited because people believe
That the progress Jesus was making in the first century
Stopped
Then and there.

Forgetting that we are called
As His ambassadors of
Reconciliation;
To make things more right.

I stand to make things more right for her.

It is within my being
To long to be a
“Wife of Noble Character”
But it is not lost on me that the verses
That describe the strongest woman on earth
Are preceded by these
In Proverbs 31:

Speak out on behalf of those who have no voice,
and defend all those who have been passed over.
Open your mouth, judge fairly,
and stand up for the rights of the afflicted and the poor.

And so I stand.
Like a woman worth far more than rubies.
Like a girl.
Stand with me.

Real Life Christmas Letter

We don’t do Christmas cards.  I mean who has time for that?  But I really, really love getting them!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you who take the time to write and send them to me.

 

If I were to send a Christmas card it would probably look something like this: 

Except I’d pick pictures where all of our eyes are open.  But I’m not sure we got any of those this year.

You want a glimpse into the real life of the Littletons this year?  Our card might look something like this if we were showing the real us:

Yes, my boys are a *little* dramatic and slightly manic.  I was caught off guard in that one picture, but that’s pretty close to the look of disgust that’s typically on my face.  And, yes, Randall always looks good. I really love my crazy family. It was a great year. I’m so glad it’s almost over. If I were to write an honest Christmas letter to send along with my real life Christmas card, it would go a little something like this:

It was a typical year.  There were good times and bad times.  We’re all a year older and a few pounds heavier.

Randall is still a pastor at The Crossing. He went on a looooong trip to a couple of different continents while the boys and I started school, and met all the teachers, and met my cousin’s new baby girl, and I can’t remember what else but he was gone while everything in our lives happened.  It was a good trip for him.  He used his Cipro to fight whatever bacterial nastiness he picked up from his first stop and he didn’t even puke once!

Isaac started middle school.  It was ROUGH.  But it’s getting better.  We just met with his team of teachers and we have a plan to help him turn his homework in on time and be a little more responsible.  If this year had a theme song it’d be this. Still, late work and all, he made the honor roll! He also started playing football for realsies. It was super fun. 

Asher is another year older, but he still hides every time someone walks in the door.  At what age do we need to pursue counseling for that? He has more energy than all the kids on the block combined. This year he started the process of getting braces because: 

But, come on, how cute is that kid?

Me? I count everyday that my kids survive a win.  I constantly pray for wisdom in parenting (that is, when I’m not yelling at my boys). My prayers often go like this, “Oh God, please give me patience, but no more reasons to practice my patience.” My days look a little different this year.  My boss sold his business and my job was changing so I quit in May.  Now I have all the time in the world to pursue my dreams (*cough* nap *cough*). Next year I promise to lose the weight and get my act together… Until then…

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

All our love,

The Littletons

Post-Truth.

It’s official.  We’re living in a “post-truth” world.  I completely blame the media for creating and perpetuating “good stories” that are grounded in falsehoods, but we’ve seen more recently that people challenged with leading this nation are stating deceptions as facts.  Maybe that’s widely accepted as the way things are these days.  Maybe smart people know to fact check and test what you hear.

I once had a friend tell me that people will search for things only until they find what they were looking for.  If you are looking to perpetuate a sentiment, based on truth or lies, you’ll find what you’re looking for to back yourself up.  He was absolutely right.

Maybe because I’ve always been a skeptic at heart… maybe because it’s part of my perfectionistic personality that I need to know truth.  Either way, I think truth matters.  No… I know truth matters.

As a mom, truth matters.  When my son tells me he showered and washed his hair, but his hair is dry… That matters.  I send him back in to try again.

Truth matters in everyday situations. If you were to get into a car accident and the driver of the other car blamed you, you’d want to find the truth and prove it somehow, right?

So, not everything is post-truth.  We still occasionally see the value of truth.  But when it comes to making super important decisions that shape our nation and lives personally, we seem to gloss over truths to make ourselves feel confident in our opinions.

I’m mostly disturbed when people I look up to veer from the truth.  Recently, a couple of Christian authors I’ve been following have come forward with views that contradict what the Bible says on one topic specifically. I don’t even want to discuss the topic because I’m not sure how much it really matters in the grand scheme of things.

What matters is that these authors are telling their followers to follow their hearts and to search for truth within themselves.  That’s not where truth comes from, friends.  Truth comes from outside of us.  If I ask my son to look within himself to find out what 2+2 is, he won’t find the answer unless he has been taught it.  And he must hold tightly to that answer for the rest of his life.  That answer won’t be affected by time or culture.

I admit that not everything is black and white.  That time and culture do change things in the world around us.  But this remains: The truth is out there.  It can’t be found within ourselves.  Our feelings and thoughts must be tested against what is true and right in this world.  And when it comes to spiritual matters the truth is found in His word.  And you know what? Sometimes the truth hurts. That doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us or forgive us when we stray from it.

But come on, we know these catch phrases.  Why do we still tend to trust whatever makes us feel good?

In the end, it really is truth that sets you free.  Not the other way around.  Free from guilt, from the responsibility of having to figure it all out yourself. Find the truth and follow it to live a full life. Believe me, that’s huge.

truth-shall-set-you-free

 

 

 

 

Looking for Me.

gold-oval-mirror-l-e27044dcce9ba1a4Call me self absorbed, I’m pretty sure I’m just human, but I go through life looking for me.  I read books looking for myself in the author or the characters.  I unconsciously compare myself to everyone I see.  Every message or podcast I hear, I relate to my experiences and I evaluate myself based on the new information I am learning. That’s normal, right?

I don’t mean to be egotistical, I just only know me. I only hear my own thoughts. I can only compare life to my own experiences.

I think in searching for myself in the world around me, I’m still really just trying to understand who I am and how God made me. I find that I’m not the person I used to be or thought I was.

As often as I’m looking, I never completely find myself in others. I am a perfectionist, but I’m a lazy perfectionist.  I’m just now realizing this because I’ve always been so laid back-except when it comes to a few things that are very important to me.  For instance, I’m an adamant rule follower.  I don’t care what you do, but I’m doing things the right way (or feeling super guilty about it).  At the same time, I am a skeptic at heart. I question everything and unless I know the reasoning behind it, I won’t follow your rules at all.  I am absolutely a feminist fighting the curse, but I also really love to serve my family and husband and I don’t mind putting their needs ahead of mine. I’m super passionate, but also very insecure (probably because I’m not perfect and I expect myself to be).  So when my heart leads me in a certain direction, my fear of failure makes me stay right where I am.

So I read these “self help” books and look for myself in the pages, but when I can’t find myself, it makes me feel I’m beyond help.

Aren’t we all looking to relate to someone else in this world?

Being unique makes me feel like I’m not doing it right.

Being unique makes me feel like I’ll never fit in; like I’ll never be able to connect with others in a meaningful way.

It beats me down and makes me feel like a failure.

 

But God created me, uniquely me, on purpose, right?  So I would have a new perspective and a refreshing voice in the midst of sameness.

When I feel like there is nothing new under the sun and that makes me feel like my life is meaningless because everything has been said already, I’m reminded that my voice has not yet been heard.  All voices are meant to be heard.

Right?

Please tell me I’m not alone in thinking this.

Please tell me I’m not alone.

Unique, but not alone.

Seek Joy.

My boys and I love an adventure.

When we decided to start geocaching this summer I told my boys all about how we would have a mission all summer long, everywhere we went.  We searched out geocaches in our neighborhood and close by parks, we found some in Oklahoma City with Grandma.  Admittedly, the heat made the mission less fun.  That and we all got poison ivy.

But the thrill of a quest, something to find and accomplish gave our summer a little extra adventure.

~*~

Today and every weekday for the past month, Isaac woke up with silent tears in his eyes dreading a new day of school.  Honestly, I think middle school is going to be more fun than elementary school for him, but he’s in a very busy season.  Isaac’s school starts an hour later than Asher’s and by the time he gets home from school he has an hour or less of free time (none at all if there’s homework) before dinner and football practice most days. On Wednesdays he has even less time because piano lessons are before football.  He really needs his free time and he’s just not getting enough.  By the time football is over, the days will be shorter and I fear he’ll still be missing that time in the sun.

isaac-jr-longhorn-2016

Every. Single. Day. I explain why he has to go to school and how it’s hard, but good for him.  We talk about all the best parts of school: seeing his friends, his favorite classes, how funny his science teacher is, dismissal…  We have to take each task every morning and evening (because he starts dreading the next day at bedtime) one step at a time like someone in recovery.

“You don’t have to go to school right now, you just have to brush your teeth.”

Every. Single. Day. It breaks my heart.

Today, Isaac, you have a mission.  Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to seek out the joy.  Dig, scrounge, chase the moments in your day that make you happy.  Do you get to sit by the window and the sun shines through and warms your arm on your desk?  Let that make you smile.  Were you first to your lunch table? Take pride in that small moment.  Did you feel the breeze circling through the bus on your ride home?  Take it in and let it fill your soul.  Life is good, baby.  Life is hard, but it is good.  Every single day is one day closer to the end of 6th grade.  You’re going to make it.  I believe in you.

Choose joy.  Take the challenge.  Change your mind.  And pray for the help it will require to make the change.

All my love,

Mom

14 Years

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Today is Randall and my wedding anniversary.  For fourteen years on August 30th we’ve gone to the World’s Fair Pavilion in Forest Park for a picnic like we did (to a much larger scale) on our wedding day.

Today is a busy day and the best time to celebrate was for an hour this morning over breakfast. The morning was hectic trying to get the boys out the door and get the house ready for someone to come in and do some work on our interior doors and baseboards.  I spent the time cleaning toilets and swiping floors and picking up dirty underwear and the 3 bajillion Nerf darts all over the house.

I washed my face but didn’t even have time to put on makeup.  I put up my hair and tried to brush the flyaways back into a pony tail. I hurried to the car to try to get the most time together in peace on our anniversary.

We held hands over coffee and talked about our favorite moments over the last fourteen years. We talked seriously about where the future is taking us. We reminisced about what we were doing fourteen years ago at this moment.

Randall, fourteen years ago I was younger, thinner, unscarred by the weight of carrying our children.  I wore a summery white dress, had professional make up on, and my hair professionally done.  We were surrounded by all of our family and friends, great food and a great party.

This year is real life.  The honeymoon is officially over.

But you know what? Fourteen years ago, I barely knew you.  I barely knew me!  We’ve grown together and created a beautiful family.  Our marriage is stronger and better with each passing year.

Randall Lawton, I love you from the bottom, top, and center of my heart.  I thank God for you, our marriage, and whatever strange events had to fall into place to bring us here, today, right where we are.

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